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Resistance in the War
Against the Poor



  Spring 2008

Multinationals Raking in Billions
in Welfare Schemes

“For scoundrels are found among my people;
they take over the goods of others.
Like fowlers they set a trap;
they catch human beings.
Like a cage full of birds,
their houses are full of treachery;
therefore they have become great and rich,
they have grown fat and sleek.
They know no limits in deeds of wickedness;
they do not judge with justice
the cause of the orphan, to make it prosper,
and they do not defend the rights of the needy.”

-          Jeremiah 5:26-28

I wonder if this verse means that poverty pimps are not as modern as I thought?! The war on the poor heated up under Clinton’s welfare smashing in 1996. There’s been a vast increase in the number of professionals and multi-nationals preying on the poor.  Why? For profit. And for secure living wage jobs.

            On February 28, the Financial Times headline read, “Multinationals Cash in on Welfare-to-Work.” “Welfare- to-Work Schemes are becoming a globalized business.”

            They discuss the “innovative methods” that private contractors use to “bring down welfare claimant numbers” in several countries. These operators in the global market are already worth $6 billion a year with the potential to expand rapidly. A chart shows the declining US welfare cases--from five million to two million The next chart shows the rise in US single mothers without work work work work work or welfare—from ten percent to 20 percent.

            But never mind those mamas crying and babies dying with no income. Around the world Dutch, English, American, and Australian corporations are raking in welfare dollars. They enforce “Work First.” This policy denies moms access to education. And Work-First means moms must take dead-end jobs that keep them in permanent poverty. (Much of Europe rejects this ‘Work-First” model. They still believe in “social inclusion” and reduction of poverty.)

Our own Maximus has poverty-pimp agencies in the US, Canada, Israel, and Australia. In Milwaukee and Israel we know first hand how they reduce “welfare-to-work” claimants.  They routinely, illegally, verbally deny eligible moms for any and every bizarre reason.  What’s she gonna do—Sue them?

 For the few hardy moms who persist, Maximus makes a game of multiple documents. When the mom fails to comply with Maximus’ fourth request for yet one more proof of last employment, one more desperate family reduces the roles. When her baby is sick, or mom has a medical emergency, or she misses another orientation, or finds a ten-hour-a-week job, down go the roles—illegally-- in the corrupt world of welfare-to-work.

The Financial Times reports, “Entrepreneurs have made small fortunes from Australia’s welfare-to-work programmes. These include Therese Rein, the successful working wife of Kevin Rudd, the country’s prime minister. Her Ingeus group grew into one of Australia’s largest welfare-to-work providers before expanding into UK, France, and Germany.

 Australia has become a world leader in the privatization of welfare. Maximus calls itself MaxNetWork in Australia. They are now one of 100 Australian poverty-pimps corporations, down from 300. Mostly ignored by the government are criticisms of unethical practices driven by financial incentives and providers getting rich off the taxpayers.

It took me awhile to grasp how families with nothing could generate billions of dollars for big business.  Now every week I learn of new scams that gag me.  The most revolting ones lately are the “colleges” sprouting up in Milwaukee.

The “colleges” provide a 5-6 month training to become a medical assistant or dental assistant. (These are exactly the types of training that Maximus should be offering moms. But they mostly refuse to pay for training of any type.) These “colleges” are filling a gap for moms who can’t find full-time work—moms who have been denied welfare support or training—and moms who can’t go to college. The “colleges” offer quick training in fields that pay “living wages.”

What’s the problem? These 5-month courses cost poor moms $13,000 “tuition”!!!! Yes, that is $13,000. AND they require the moms to work for NO PAY full-time in a 6 weeks “externship.” These $13000 loans will quickly double and triple with interest.

I hear about these training scams from moms calling our MOMS Line. They are trying to find income during that 6 week “externship.”  They can no longer work the paid job that kept them going while going to school.

The new millennium slavery forces moms to work off welfare support checks in 30 hours unpaid work each week. Obviously the sick idea of forcing moms to work for no pay has spread. Training for jobs that used to be learned on-the-job, with pay, are generating millions of dollars for unethical welfare-to-work “colleges.”  What’s next?

Pat Gowens, Editor MWV

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